Russia plans to expand its army to 1.5 million troops, defense minister says

Russia on Tuesday detailed plans to increase its army to 1.5 million over the next few years.

The plan comes amid growing tensions between Moscow and the United States and its allies over the war in Ukraine.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has announced that the military build-up will take place between 2023 and 2026, according to the Russian state news agency. Tas.

New military districts in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as the Karelian corps on the border with Finland, will be created under the program. wall street journal report. Karelia comes into focus after both Finland and Sweden sought to join NATO.

Epoch Times photo
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and senior military officials in Moscow, Russia on December 21, 2022.

In addition, Shoigu said that “self-sufficient” units would be set up in Russian-held Ukrainian territory.

Russia also aims to increase the “combat capabilities of its navy, aerospace force and strategic rocket force.” Tas report.

“Only by strengthening the main components of the armed forces can we ensure the military security of the state and protect new organizations and important facilities of the Russian Federation,” Shoigu said. Reuters.

The announcement comes as Moscow faces a setback on the Ukrainian battlefield since it launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

according to TasKremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the military expansion was a response to the “proxy war” the West is waging against Russia in Ukraine.

He referred to Western countries’ “indirect involvement in military activities and factors such as economic warfare, financial warfare, legal battles, and measures beyond the legal field.”

Currently, there are about 1 million soldiers in the Russian army.

The Kremlin previously thought the size of its armed forces was sufficient for a quick victory over Ukraine, but that changed after facing fierce Ukrainian resistance.

In the midst of war, both Russia and Ukraine have kept their military casualties closely guarded. The last time Russian forces reported combat losses, he said, was in September 2022, with 5,937 soldiers killed, though Western countries had much higher estimates. In December 2022, British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace said 100,000 Russian troops had been killed, wounded or deserted since the invasion began.

In August 2022, President Putin ordered an increase in the size of the Russian Armed Forces to 1.15 million starting January 1, 2023. And he said in September 2022, Putin ordered the mobilization of his 300,000 reservists to bolster his forces in Ukraine. Their number counts as part of the army’s current strength.

Mobilization was in addition to the regular conscription of 120,000 to 140,000 men twice a year for one year of compulsory service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jane Nguyen